PROFILE BY BEST RESTAURANTS
There are plenty of places to eat and drink at Southbank, but nowhere quite like the Belgian Beer Cafe. A long bar with brass railings runs the length of the venue with attractive timber panelling and glowing rows of pendant lights but the main drawcard of this restaurant is its extensive range of beers. The vibe is distinctly European and incredibly welcoming, and the guys behind the bar are among the best in the business.
If the munchies attack, settle in at the restaurant or pull up a stool at the bar to graze on an array of small dishes. A Hoegaarden at the bar with some smoked salmon and creme fraiche on rye bread is just one of the pleasures worth sampling or try a pint of Leffe Brune with cervelat – smoked pork sausage – and some cubes of aged Gouda cheese. While the main focus is on the vast variety of Belgian beers, it's a pleasant surprise to find that the wine list is extremely well chosen and fairly priced. The speciality of the house is the moules frites (mussels and fries), which could well be the Belgian national dish. They come served in huge pots whose lids double as bowls to hold the emptied shells. Try them steamed with Hoegaarden, citrus zest and coriander seeds. If mussels don't rock your boat there is an assortment of other dishes, too, from juicy steaks, simply served with herb butter and fries, to Toulouse-style sausages with mash and caramelised onion. The lunch menu also offers an enterprising range of sandwiches and salads.